Shortcuts summary

As we’ve explained, there’s no set way to conduct a rapid review. Rapid reviews involve a series of decisions about where to cut corners. Those decisions save time, but may also affect the breadth and integrity of your conclusions.

Below is a table with a quick summary of the typical shortcuts described and their potential consequences.

Potential shortcuts of a rapid review as compared to standard systematic review*

Review ProcessSRRRConsequence of RR shortcut
Searching
Comprehensive, several databases, few limits (e.g., language, date of publication)Less comprehensive, fewer databases, more limitsLikely incomplete/potentially inaccurate picture of the evidence base. Less precise estimates (if doing meta-analysis)
ScreeningPre-defined eligibility criteria rigorously applied by 2 independent screeners. Conflict resolved through discussion or arbitration by a 3rd rater
Pre-defined eligibility criteria applied by at least 1 screener 
 
Staged screening of higher levels of evidence (based on study design, minimum number of participants, etc.)

Likely incomplete/potentially inaccurate picture of the evidence base. Potential bias and errors of single human screener not mitigated by a 2nd screener
Extracting
Data from a comprehensive list of variables are extracted into well-defined, piloted data extraction forms by 2 independent extractors. Conflict resolved through discussion or arbitration by a 3rd rater

Data from a restricted list of variables (or large list but less detail) are extracted by a single reviewer

Likely incomplete/potentially inaccurate picture of the specific evidence within included studies. Potential bias and errors of single human extractor not mitigated by a 2nd extractor
Synthesizing
Narrative synthesis and quantitative synthesis, where appropriate

Typically, narrative synthesis only

Synthesis may lack the depth and certainty of the findings of standard systematic reviews 
Reporting
Protocol:
Registered with PROSPERO or published 

Report: Published scientific paper
Protocol and report: Often for internal purposes only, typically not registered or published


Protocol
: Limits transparency and accountability. 
 
Report: Limits access to findings beyond commissioning stakeholders of review. Limits evaluating and testing rapid review methods

*Example methods are listed for comparison for both standard systematic review and rapid reviews; these are not meant to be definitive methods for either approach.